New York Times Examines Disputes Over Expert Testimony in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
The New York Times on Sunday looked at a question that is emerging in medical malpractice disputes: "Should medical groups have the power to discipline doctors for their expert testimony?" While medical groups say that such actions "help weed out incompetent and dishonest experts," trial lawyers contend that the groups' "real goal is to silence doctors who testify for plaintiffs," the Times reports. The Times profiled a case in which three doctors requested that the Florida Medical Association take punitive action against Dr. John Fullerton, a San Francisco internist and occasional expert witness in medical malpractice lawsuits, for giving "erroneous opinions" in a malpractice suit against them in Tampa, Fla., last year. In response, Fullerton filed his own lawsuit in May in Tallahassee, saying that the doctors and FMA had libeled him, damaged the market value of his expert testimony and engaged in witness intimidation and racketeering. The outcome of the case may depend on whether physicians testifying as expert witnesses have the same kind of immunity from lawsuits that other witnesses have when they testify in trials, the Times reports. According to the Times, "legal experts say the suit is the first to use a libel claim to challenge charges made in a medical disciplinary proceeding concerning expert testimony" (Liptak, New York Times, 6/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.